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INDIGO Partnership’s Research Addresses Mental Health Stigma In India


INDIGO Partnership’s Research Addresses Mental Health Stigma In India


The George Institute of Global Health, New Delhi, is part of the International Study of Discrimination and Stigma Outcomes (INDIGO) Partnership. The objective of this group is to address the stigma associated with mental health issues across Africa and Asia. A recent publication from this collaboration highlights their efforts in India.

All over the world, people with mental health problems face stigma and discrimination from various sources, including their communities and healthcare professionals. This often leads to social exclusion and poor access to treatment. In low- and middle-income countries, there has not been much research aimed at reducing mental health stigma. For example, although studies have shown that stigma-reduction efforts work in these countries, their success depends on the specific culture of the community within the country.

Explaining the research, Dr Mercian Daniel from George Institute said, “We designed and tested three pilot interventions as proof of concept: one for community members and health workers, one for primary care providers, and one for mental health professionals. Participants in these interventions comprised ASHAs (Accredited Social Health Activists), medical officers at urban primary health centres (PHCs), and district mental health personnel at Faridabad. Participants also included individuals with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts receiving treatment.”

People with mental health conditions were asked to share hurtful words they had heard or been called. The study showed that terms like “creep,” “cracked,” “mad,” “foolish,” “brainless,” and others (in Hindi) were commonly used. Insulting labels for people with mental illness can prevent them from seeking help. It is important to identify these common insults to find better, more respectful alternatives. These terms were adjusted to fit the local culture, making them easier for health workers and individuals with mental health conditions to relate to and understand during the intervention training. It also addressed common myths about mental illness and discussed relevant policies.

In addition to Dr. Mercian Daniel and other researchers from the George Institute, the group that conducted this research included scientists from King’s College in the UK, Georgetown University, and George Washington University in the USA,. The details of this work have been published in Frontiers in Psychiatry and may be accessed at https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2024.1337662.


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